This is the first book by Karen Ranney that I have read. I am always looking for a new and talented author to add to my favorites list. I was really pleased after finishing "Till Next We Meet" as it contained all the elements I select books to read, things such as: passion, intensity, deep character development, an entertaining plot and sizzling love scenes and true emotion by hero and heroine by the books end. This book had it all.
A few things I found the most compelling in this story were:
1) How the book focused heavily on the letters written between heroine Catherine and her husband Harry (or so she thought) while he was away in North America doing military work. The letters were passionate and deep and beautiful. You could tell the two were opening up their hearts and minds fully to the other during their time writing to one another. A couple who barely knew one another after their marriage changed with long time correspondence to a couple who were soul mates by the time the letters ended. This sharing of their letters with the reader was a nice touch and was definitely unique and refreshing in a love story.
2) I liked how realistic Captain Moncrief/The Duke of Lymond our hero's emotions were. He was oozing loneliness from his childhood and adult life and the letters he secretly penned to Catherine opened up his heart and mind in ways he never believed. He was a strong man - made so by the ups and downs of life. Love made him complete. He truly adored Catherine from afar via her letters to him and his to her. I especially enjoyed his "honest" reaction to meeting her the first time: she was gaunt, pale, bed ridden, high on laudanum and had stringy brown hair and empty brown eyes - she was not the beauty he pictured in his mind. She was not the perfect woman from his letters and he wanted to be gone from her quickly thinking he lost his mind to dream up a woman that clearly didn't exist from a years worth of correspondence. I liked this touch by the author - it made Moncrief a very much a real man. For once...she wasn't the perfect princess of every man's fantasy land. The dream Moncrief had created simply didn't exist. Fortunately...as the book went on, the real Catherine re-emerged from the fog of pain, drugs and loss and she became greater than any dream Moncrief could ever imagine. She became again everything he ever wanted but, didn't think he would find. Moncrief is truly a great hero. He was not a rake, rogue, scoundrel, gambler, womanizer or debaucher of young gals. He was truly what a man should be when you hear the word, "hero". Sigh...
3) The love scenes between Catherine and Moncrief were wonderful. I liked how she didn't want to be intimate with him in the beginning because she couldn't let go of the past and her late husband but, Moncrief very wisely played with her mind more than her body and that caused interest and attraction to begin. Once they did get together, the fireworks flew like the fourth of July. The scenes were tastefully written, powerful and believable. I especially liked how KR made clear that Moncrief almost loved her more than he desired her and it showed in his gentle, kind and giving ways. That is the true test of a man's feelings - when it surpasses the sexual. Catherine took some time to heal and learn that she needed to give back all she had been given. Fortunately, Catherine over-came the past and learned to adore, respect and admire Moncrief as he deserved as time went on.
4) The side characters of Catherine's late husband Harry, her housekeeper Glynneth, the local Vicar, sister-in-laws to Moncrief of Julianna and Hortensia and others made the plot rich and inviting. These characters all played side roles to the story, some more important and interesting than others. Glynneth's position is disclosed fully by the books end and her background is very entertaining.
5) Character development was deep and true and played out well in this book. Both Catherine and Moncrief became much better people by the end of the story. I liked how they took their past and all the mistakes, mourned for their losses but, found a way to move on and make a future together. A much better future. It may have been painful along the way but, their growth was real and appealing.
6) I liked how the truth about the letters worked out at the end and the discovery of the real Glynneth. There was no shouting matches, storming away or stomping off to a pity party. Catherine took all the lies and deceptions in stride and found a way to work out the issues. She handled the truth with dignity and courage as a great heroine should.
I give this book a hearty two thumbs up or as ratings go....4 plus stars! I would like to give it 5 stars but, I am picky with giving a perfect rating to any book. I only give that to really, really rare finds. This book came close though! If you have not read this author before, do pick her up. This one was definitely worth the lack of sleep I got reading it all night long! Enjoy!